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Ginebra ousts NorthPort, books semis duel with Magnolia

The stage is set for an explosive semifinal encounter between two of Philippine Basketball Association’s most popular teams — Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia.

On Sunday, the Kings formalized their entry to the Final Four of the Commissioner’s Cup, but not after outlasting a game NorthPort side, 99-93, and setting up a best-of-five encounter against the Hotshots beginning Wednesday.

“It’s been awhile since we last played them. We know them so well and they know us and things we like to do, so it’s going to be a great battle,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said.

A 10-0 run in the crucial stretch allowed the Kings to gain their second wind and create separation against the Batang Pier, who kept on coming back behind their gunners, Arvin Tolentino and Kevin Ferrer, who presided over the offense and picked up from where Will Navarro left off.

Navarro scored 10 points in the first period but had to leave the game in the next frame after he hurt his knee and was brought to the hospital.

But the Batang Pier refused to fold up and gave the Gin Kings’ Triangle Offense some difficulty breaking their zone defense.

In the end, the more experienced Kings showed their championship composure typified by yet another solid, all-around game from reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson as well as veteran guard LA Tenorio, who achieved another milestone in the series-clinching victory against the Batang Pier.

Thompson flirted with a triple-double performance as he wound up with 15 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Tenorio, who just moved up to the No. 4 spot in the all-time list for most number of three-point shots and surpassed Ronnie Magsanoc, inched a notch higher and tied another PBA great, two-time MVP James Yap, after hitting four triples to end up with 14 points and three assists.

Yap and Tenorio each had a career three-point made conversions of 1,178 but the Ginebra playmaker can easily surpass the inactive Rain or Shine gunner as the Kings proceed to the next phase of the tournament, the semifinals, against the Hotshots.

Cone’s team had defeated the Hotshots, 103-97, on 23 October, but he believes that it’s going to be a lot different in the playoffs when they face the Nick Rakocevic-reinforced Magnolia squad.

“Nick Rakocevic is going to be a tough match up for us because he’s long and tall, but he is also quick, which makes him a lot tougher to match up with,” Cone said.

The Scores:
GINEBRA (99) — Brownlee 20, Thompson 15, Tenorio 14, Malonzo 14, Standhardinger 13, Pringle 10, Gray 9, Aguilar 4, Mariano 0.
NORTHPORT (93) — Chan 20, Tolentino 18, Ferrer 18, Bolick 13, Navarro 10, Ibeh 7, Sumang 5, Balanza 2, Taha 0, Calma 0, Caperal 0.
QUARTERS: 13-29, 43-47, 72-66, 99-93.

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